Messiah Blog & News

News at Messiah

How do we respond?

This coming Sunday, February 11, is known as the Sunday of the Transfiguration. Our Gospel Lesson is the story of a vision seen by three of Jesus' disciples - Peter, James and John. The vision was of Jesus transfigured into a glowing, bright white, luminous figure - appearing with the Old Testament prophet Elijah and Moses. Perhaps y...

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Lenten Offerings - ELCA Fund for Leaders

It is our joy, privilege and choice during the season of Lent to direct our Wednesday evening offerings to some special project. While we won't be passing the plate on Ash Wednesday, nor during our Holden Vesper Evening Prayer services February 21-March 20, there will be an offering box available at the back during these services. You may also...

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Why we read the Bible in Worship

Reading the Bible is a good thing. Just let me put that out there. Many of us read short Bible passages along with daily devotions and prayer. What a super way to begin or end our day! Some of us enjoy Bible study like we do Wednesday afternoons. Or, you may be part of other study opportunities. Outstanding! For me, devotions are mor...

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What?! Valentine's Day AND Ash Wednesday Together?

By a quirk of the calendar, Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday both fall on February 14 this year. At first blush they seem sort of incompatible to me.  According to Wikipedia, 'Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring a martyr named Valenti...

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21st Century Discipleship

It will be a gift to be back in worship this Sunday, January 21, 2024, and - finally - be free of icy streets. (He said hopefully!!) This Sunday's Gospel Lesson is Mark 1:14-20. You my know this text for its familiar "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." statement. Midweek Bible Study was snowed out, but if we had met ...

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The Christmas Creche - Timeless

We had a Christmas creche, a manger scene, in my house growing up that came out every year. I remember it well. The angel was white plastic and didn't match the rest of the figures.  The three wisemen I would parade around the living room on their way to see the baby Jesus. The stable was wood with moss growing on it. That felt right to me liv...

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Who I am. Who I am not.

Leonardo da Vinci painted a famous picture of John the Baptist in 1516. It shows John pointing towards Jesus as the promised Messiah. It's amazing how many Renaissance paintings show John pointing. It is who he was. It is who we remember his as. "Prepare Ye the way!" Last week Pr. Tom talked about all the things John was - "charismatic, a food...

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Christmas in Bethlehem 2023

Pr. Muther Isaac is a Lutheran pastor in Palestine. He is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and Holy Land. He lives in Bethlehem and is the Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College, and Director of Christ at the Checkpoint.  Hear Pr. Isaac in this Al Jazeera news piece (above). The YouTube link below is the same. ...

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Confirmation/Reformation Worship October 29, 2023

Sunday we have a great celebration coming up. First of all it is Confirmation Sunday for two of our Messiah high school youth. These are Samantha L and Ryan McP. Each has completed their three year confirmation studies and look forward to sharing their faith statements with you. Their confirmation will take place at our Hazel Dell campus at th...

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Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum all join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions...

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Gaza and Israel - Part 2

I suppose it could go without saying why the Evangelical Lutheran Church cares about the history and current situation in the Middle East. We care because God's love and hope for Peace extends to all people. We care about Palestine, the Holy Land, because as Christians our history lives there in a unique way. We care because as Lutherans we have a ...

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Gaza and Israel - Part 1

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Faith, Last week we included a link to ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton's pastoral letter on the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. You may know that I served as bishop of the Oregon Synod for 12 years, from 2007-2019. Bishop Eaton was both a synodical bishop collogue and then my presiding bishop du...

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New Church Directory!!

In the 'old days' churches used to have professional Church Directory companies come in, take family pictures, sell family pictures (to you,) and then make church directories for free out of the proceeds.  That was all well and good, but not what most of us do anymore. Now churches (like Messiah) have more sophisticated membership softwar...

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Indictments (and other poisons)

If you read or study the New Testament much you are probably used to having the Apostle Paul in his letters tell people what they should and shouldn't be doing, and what it means to be the church, or live a godly life. I, at least, think of the Gospels more as books that tell the story of Jesus. They are stories and histories, if you will, as oppos...

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Heart Hands: Wrapped in Love

What a difference a year makes! Last September Pr. Tom and I were just getting to know you. We were working on our Ministry Site Profile and looking forward to a Spring/Summer formation of your call committee. Check, check and check. We've done great so far. Thank you! The theme we used for last Fall's work was "In Holy Hands." We talked about how ...

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Don't Talk - Follow!

Last week we read about Peter's confession of faith that Jesus was the Messiah, and Jesus saying "You are Peter, and on this rock I shall build my church . . ." The sermon was about the "Keys of the Kingdom" and my understanding of the difference between "Remembrance" and "Recollection." I did not, however, make any mention of the last, what some p...

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Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you.

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday, August 27, 2023, is Matthew 16:13-20. In it Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is - for which there are lots of answers. And then Jesus asks them who they think he is, and Peter says, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!" Right you are, Peter. And you didn't come up with that one a...

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The Sheer Audacity!

This Sunday, August 13, 2023, our Gospel Lesson is Matthew 14:22-33. It may be a familiar story to you - Jesus walking on the water.  The story is this. Jesus has just fed the 5,000 - last week's Gospel Lesson. He has told his disciples to take their boat back across the lake while he dismisses the crowd - and then Jesus goes back up into the ...

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Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be!

August 9, 2023 Dear Friends and Members of Messiah Lutheran Church, Thank you for a wonderful summer, and all the prayers, work and involvement you have offered for VBS and Wild Wednesdays, as well as the ongoing work of our quilters, study groups, Stephens Ministries, etc. Worship attendance has also been strong and energetic through the summer. I...

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Love those blackberries, but . . .

The Kingdom of Heaven is like invasive blackberry bushes in your backyard. They are really tenacious and aggravating, but you like blackberry pie and enjoy watching the little bunnies run in and out of them for protection. The Kingdom of Heaven is alike a computer virus . . . The Kingdom of Heaven is like the city fixing sewer lines in your ne...

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Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Last Sunday, June 18, we looked together at Jesus' assessment that the people around him were "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." I suggested that this was "political commentary" in the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel who lambasted the political and religious leaders of his day for failing to care for those most in ...

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Like Sheep without a Shepherd

I'm sure there must have been a time in pre-human history or whatever when sheep did just fine without shepherds. I mean, they must have been wild at some point, wandering around feeding themselves, living in little flocks or 'family' groups or whatever. I have no idea, I'm just pretty sure they didn't evolve as a domestic food source. But ent...

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"Hello, my name is El Shaddai!"

This coming Sunday, June 4, is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity. Join us for worship as your favorite 'church self' and we'll talk about the masks we wear and the various ways (count 'em - three) that God shows up for us. Fun, fun, fun. This Sunday is also graduate Sunday so at Hazel Dell we'll have some of this year's graduates joinin...

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COVID Update

My wife Gretchen and I live in a co-housing condominium. There are 39 of us, 55+, living in intentional community. You'll not be surprised to hear that we've been having the same kinds of COVID conversations Messiah Lutheran has been having over the past three years. Gretchen, with her Masters Degree in Nursing, has been an active and interest...

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Does not compute!

The human brain is an amazing machine. Our eyes receive images, our ears sounds, our skin touch. Then, all of this input runs along highways called nerves. It flies from synapse to synapse and is compared to other information in vast, organic data banks. All of this happens with the goal of answering just one question....

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Synod Assembly May 5-6

What's a Synod Assembly? (For that matter, what's a "synod"?!) Well, the "Synod" is the 88 congregations and 30,000 some ELCA Lutherans in SW Washington. There are 65 synods in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and each synod is served by a bishop and the bishop's staff. Our bishop is Rick Jaech, and the Bishop's Associate is R...

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Ambushed

Okay, Cleopas and his friend weren't ambushed. But, deep in grief over the death of Jesus (and possible theft of his body) as these two men walk home from Jerusalem to Emmaus they totally don't recognize the stranger that joins them. And, Jesus isn't volunteering any clarity about who he is. I guess he knows they'll figure it out whe...

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Call Committee Prayer Support

One of Messiah's members, Hope Quinn, has suggested that she would like to organize and support a Prayer Team specifically focused on our Call Committee members and their work. Thank you, Hope. What a wonderful gift! Hope's vision is that this is something anybody who feels called could do from home on their own schedule. She'll keep the Team ...

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Call Committee Update

Dear Friends, We are off and running with the Call Committee - and I'm excited to be moving into this phase of our congregational transition. Thank you all for your prayers, trust and support! Wednesday evening, April 12, our Call Committee met together for the first time via ZOOM with SWWA Synod Bishop's Associate Rev. Rebecca Shjerven. I was able...

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Are you a Messiah Member? (Please read.)

"Jesus loves me, this I know!" A common response to the call of God in Jesus Christ is baptism. When baptized the pastor traces the sign of the cross on an individual's forehead and says "'Bob,' child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever." To be baptized is not only to ...

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Pastor Dave's Book/Bible Study Schedule

Holy Week is a pause in the usual routine of our lives. Functionally it's a pause because our focus and time moves to the special services of the season - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter!. Spiritually it is the same. I encourage you to set other things aside as much as possible and spend time internally focusing on what the death and r...

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On the Brink of Everything

We are now in the middle of Holy Week. Sunday we raised Palms and sang "Hosanna!" This is the beginning of the week that was. In the party (and politically charged) atmosphere that was Passover - with everybody who was anybody in Jerusalem - Jesus rode into town as a Fan Fav who hailed him as a prophet and the promised "Son of David." This was our ...

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Inviting All Men . . .

Saturday, May 20, Lutheran Men in Mission is sponsoring a "Bold Gathering" for men. It will be at Trinity Lutheran Church Parkland in Tacoma, WA. There is no cost other than a freewill offering basket with lunch. I'm curious about the event and plan to attend personally. If you wish to make a day of it with me I'd be glad to have company. Time...

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What the body knows . . .

Fredrick Nietzsche once said, "There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy." The mind may be able to understand complex philosophical concepts, but it can never experience the joys and sorrows of life as the body can. The body knows what it is like to feel pain and pleasure, love and hate, happiness and sadness. The mind ...

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Pass the plate please

I consider giving and gifting to be sacred acts. They are sacred because giving and gifting are woven into the very fabric of life. We are "given" life from the outset. Parents give so much to children as they grow, and children learn to give in return - smiles, a helping hand, trust, faith. We share a sandwich at lunch, give time to help a neighbo...

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CALL COMMITTEE - The Next Step!

The CLT is beginning it's process of putting together Messiah's Call Committee, a significant group in the calling of a new pastor. This communication is designed to 1) Explain the process, 2) Allow members to volunteer for service, and 3) Outline the responsibilities of the call committee and the timeline they will follow. 1. How Does this Wo...

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People of a Certain Age

The 6:00 AM Tuesday morning book group has just finished Bill McKibben's The Flag, the Cross and the Station Wagon and is now in recess until April 11. (The Tuesday after Easter.) Sometime between now and then I'll get a "vote" form out for you about our next book or focus. There are no space limitations on ZOOM so we'd love to have you! ...

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Know it by Heart!!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I know John 3:16 by heart - and for some reason in the old King James translation. I've never had a KJV Bible. I also know most of the 23rd Psalm, the Lord's Prayer, the 10 Commandments and the Apostle'...

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Midweek Lenten Worship - the Gift of Lament

"Lament" is the gift of giving voice to our anguish, pain or anger without the need to place blame or "fix" something. Many of the Old Testament Psalms are Psalms of Lament and they are given us for a reason. Psalms of Lament are given to us so that we, too, might find words for pains too deep to understand.  How long O Lord?! During the ...

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Mind If I Smoke?

Once when I was a kid, maybe 10 years old or so, my friend Tim and I found a pack of cigarettes in the street. We hid them away, and then one day snuck into the bushes to try smoking one of the them - living on the wild side! Apparently we thought we were doing something wrong. Temptation, of course, isn't really about such things as smoking, drink...

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Join us for Lent!

Debra Rienstra writes: "Refugia Faith requires a sturdy capacity to grieve, lament and repent. It requires the humility that comes from feeling helpless and small. More important refugia faith compels us to grieve along with others, to build empathy and compassion for those whose griefs we may never have bothered about before."She continues: "Lente...

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The Vital Role of "Nothing" - Ash Wednesday

"Ashes present a great diminishment away from the living tree with its huge crown and its abundant shade. The recognition of this diminishment is a proper experience for men who are over thirty. If the man doesn't experience that diminishment sharply, he will retain his inflation, and continue to identify himself with all in him that can fly: his s...

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Salty encounters!

"You are the salt of the earth ..." says Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel Lesson. Salt makes a bad main dish in my opinion! Rather, salt is a seasoning or flavor enhancer, right? Even more, let's recognize that salt's usually invisible in a good dinner and if you actually taste the salt itself somebody is likely to scrunch up their...

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Blessed are the . . .

There is method to Matthew's madness in telling the story of Jesus! In Matthew 3 we read about the baptism of Jesus. Through his baptism Jesus is identified as the one who will be the Savior of the world. In Matthew 4 Jesus is tempted by Satan to abandon his call and sell out to dependence on his own power and privilege. "Denied!" Je...

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Pr. Dave at Bishop's Convocation this week

This week I'll be at the SWWA Synod Bishop's Convocation in Seabeck, WA. The Bishop's Convocation is an annual event in which our synodical bishop, currently Bp. Rick Jaech, calls all of our deacons and pastors together to "build a greater sense of community and be deepened in our theological, spiritual and educational formation." I ...

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Bible Study with Pr. Dave begins January 25 at 2pm

Happy New Year!! 2023 would be a great year to invest in some noggin nuddlin' with Pr. Dave!! Face to Face Bible Study - Yea!!This past Fall we had a second, virtual, book group that paralleled our Tuesday Study. This group met Wednesday mornings. However, this study used to be Face to Face, and a Bible Study to boot. So, we're returning ...

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Come and See!

Our Gospel Lesson for this Sunday, January 15, 2023, is John 1:29-42.  This is John's version of the baptism of Jesus and it is quite different than the one I preached on last Sunday, Matthew 3:13-17. What is the same, though, is that the story focuses on proclamation of who Jesus is as opposed to Jesus' personal experience of being claimed by...

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Why be Baptized?

This coming Sunday, January 8, is the "Baptism of our Lord" Sunday. My question, "Why be baptized?" certainly is a personal, contemporary question. People - like you and me - get baptized for many different reasons. For some it is a family, cultural thing. For others is a "rite of joining" a church thing. In theory it's suppose to be a commitm...

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Tuesday morning book group to discuss 'The Flag, the Cross and the Station Wagon' beginning Jan. 10

The Tuesday and Wednesday morning bookgroups just finished Refugias Faith by Debra Rienstra. Thank you to all who participated. Beginning Tuesday, Janaury 10, at 6 AM the Tuesday morning bookgroup will be discussing The Flag, the Cross and the Station Wagon by Bill McKibben. It's available in digital, paper and audio versions at Amazon, and it...

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New Year's Resolve

I would like to add my personal "Thank You" to that of the entire staff for the wonderful Christmas Season with all of you. Thank you for your support, your various forms of service and help, and thank you for your gift of time and presence through the whole of the Advent/Christmas cycle. It's been wonderful. By extension I wish to also thank you f...

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It's Complicated!

It's complicated, as politics often are. Israel fell into civil war after the death of King Solomon, dividing the country into two nations. A couple hundred years later the 'Northern Kingdom' was being attacked by the Assyrians, so they made a defense pact with Syria. Together Syria and the Northern Kingdom wanted to set up a pu...

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Straw Steak

Welcome to Advent, a season of four Sundays before Christmas. Historically Advent has been considered a time of quiet, prayerful preparation for the coming of our Lord. In reality our 'Black Friday,' 'Giving Tuesday,' 'Grateful Thursday' and on and on doesn't allow this to happen unless we work at it - but we try. This year Pr. Tom and I have ...

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Pie in Holy Hands

Sorry. Cheap ploy. I'm just trying to get you to read this post!! However, please do join us for a time of giving thanks and enjoying a piece of pie Wednesday evening, November 23, beginning at 6 PM. All are welcome!Mostly, though, I would like to thank you for your participation and gracious spirit through our now completed "In Holy...

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The Ongoing Reformation

October 9 - "Storied Water" (Baptism) in which we died to this dysfunctional social matrix and were reborn in the faith, committed to the "Creation Community" spoken into life by God.October 16 - The story itself, written, spoken and walking among us in he person of Jesus Christ. October 23 - Of wheat and wine, feasting on bread made by our co...

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Messiah's Confirmation Program

My thanks to Ben McCarty, Messiah's Digital Media Coordinator, for helping me with posts about what's going on at church. AND, of course, keeping the website up, getting the Northern Highlights out, etc. One of my more joyful duties as one of your interim pastors is to teach confirmation. Our program is a three year program with rotating emphases. ...

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Of Wine and Wheat

Holy Communion - The Eucharist (Thanksgiving!) - is a sacrament of the Christian faith. We receive it with joy and awe. Yet, it is a mistake to separate the sacrament from the choices of everyday life. This Sunday we will read Isaiah 25:6-8 and 1 Cor 11:17-34. These texts speak to blessing and responsibility. Give them a looksie before worship...

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What's a "Refugia?!"

This Tuesday and Wednesday - at 6 AM and 10 AM respectively - I am offering a book study opportunity. I'd love to have you join us! Our book is called Refugia Faith: : Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth by Debra Rienstra.  Amazon says, "Refugia (reh-FU-jee-ah) is a biological term describing place...

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The Walking Word

This iconoclastic painting of Martin Luther was done by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1548 - 30 some years into the Lutheran Reformation. It is unlike any pre-Reformation Christian art you will find. The painting (Cranach was sort of Luther's publicist, a story for another time!) shows Luther with his hand firmly on the Bible, pointing to th...

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Adult book/bible study resumes Oct. 11-12

After a pair of informational meetings last week, the adult bible/book study group will be resuming via Zoom with two meeting opportunities each week.  Pastor Dave sends thanks to those  those who were able to make our informational Zoom meetings this past Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  The group will meet starting Tuesday, October...

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Size Matters? - Not!!

Speakers In Luke 15 people are coming to listen to Jesus and those in power - the Scribes and Pharisees - grumble. They don't like it. So, Jesus shares his perspectives on rich people and that's what I've preached on the last two weeks. Before this Pr. Tom had set these lessons up beautifully by talking about Christians as "pointless...

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Somebody just doesn't like rich guys!

I try not to take this personally, but either Luke (the Gospel writer) or Jesus himself seems to have an issue with rich guys. My wife isn't sure I qualify but, you know, I have a job and a pension. What does it take?! Anyway, last Sunday the Gospel Lesson began, "There was a rich man who ..." and I had to talk about "dishonest wealth." Gotta say, ...

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"Make friends with dishonest wealth!" - Really?

The Gospel Lesson this Sunday (September 18, 2022) is Luke 16:1-13. It's a story sometimes called The Parable of the Dishonest Manager. In it Jesus says that the "children of this age" are smarter than Christians. He also tells us to "make friends for ourselves by means of dishonest wealth." What the heck does that mean??! (In all honesty prea...

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